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Improving Social Mobility by Helping Rural Students Make Informed College Choice

Work & Education China

College education is a major pathway for upward mobility and even more so for rural students in China due to Chinese migration policy. In the context of China, students’ exam score and their rank-ordered list on college preferences are the only two aspects considered in college admission. Using administrative dataset on students’ score, application profile and admission outcomes, we find strong and robust evidence that rural students, on average, end up in colleges of significantly lower quality than that of their urban counterparts who have the same college entrance exam score. This project aims to investigate the mechanisms underlying this inequality in three steps. The first step is to analyze the inequality in a matching framework and data from pilot survey which elicit students’ knowledge, beliefs, preferences and consideration set in college application. In light of what we find in the first step, we will conduct a carefully-designed random intervention to improve students’ admission outcome. The last step is to evaluate the consequence and general equilibrium effects of such intervention, especially in terms of alleviating the rural-urban gap aforementioned.

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